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DirecTV & DISH & STELA Reauthorization

STELA Distants

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#1 OFFLINE   Lord Vader

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 11:11 AM

More information here.

 

Rep. Walden's info on his bill.

 

Broadcasters defeat a key amendment to the bill.

 

 

 

Talk amongst (sic) yourselves....

 

 


FAITH: I find the lack of it disturbing.

Opinions are my own but should be those of all Americans, who would be much better off intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally if that were the case.


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#2 OFFLINE   joshjr

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 12:08 PM

I was bummed the hearing was cancelled.  I cant wait to see the next one.  It has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 10:30am.


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#3 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 12:45 PM

The draft bill was released: http://forums.solids...t-bill-released

The big win for satcasters is the ability to negotiate with affiliates separately instead of as a large group. Not everything we hoped for but it's a step.
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#4 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 01:01 PM

The big win for satcasters is the ability to negotiate with affiliates separately instead of as a large group. Not everything we hoped for but it's a step.

I suspect that there will be unimaginable pressure from the NCTA and NAB for anything that either doesn't disadvantage DBS or in this case, might give DBS an advantage.

I'd like to see someone exempt DBS from regional taxation designed to simulate franchise and rights-of-way expenses but that would require some serious counter-lobbying.

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#5 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 01:04 PM

Well, I'd like to see mandatory arbitration before local channel blackouts. If local channels are so important then the owners must be betraying the public trust by allowing them to be blacked out. If they aren't so important then they shouldn't be guaranteed carriage in the basic tier.
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#6 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 01:05 PM

Broadcasters defeat a key amendment to the bill.

It made me chuckle that they characterized the broadcaster's effort as "grass roots". It is surely more like a full-scale and carefully orchestrated effort by professional lobbyists.

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#7 OFFLINE   joshjr

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 02:13 PM

Well, I'd like to see mandatory arbitration before local channel blackouts. If local channels are so important then the owners must be betraying the public trust by allowing them to be blacked out. If they aren't so important then they shouldn't be guaranteed carriage in the basic tier.

 

I agree.  I didnt see anything on orphin counties either.  They have had 5 years to get all this sorted out.  I really dont wanna see another half ass or complete ass bill approved for this.  Lets get the hard stuff out of the way so we can deal with it and move on.  I dont think they are doing anyone any favors by just kicking the can down the road. 


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#8 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:32 PM

DIRECTV and DISH Applaud Draft Satellite Bill


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. & ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DIRECTV and DISH thank Chairman Walden of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee for releasing the first STELA reauthorization discussion draft.

We support this draft as an important first step in the reauthorization of STELA. Significantly, it ensures continuity of service to more than 1.5 million distant signal customers who would, otherwise, lose service in December. It also addresses one of the most egregious forms of retransmission consent abuse – joint negotiating agreements among broadcasters.

We and our 34 million combined customers appreciate the hard work of the Subcommittee, and we look forward to working with Republican and Democratic members of Congress as this legislation moves forward.

About DIRECTV: DIRECTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is one of the world's leading providers of digital television entertainment services delivering a premium video experience through state-of-the-art technology, unmatched programming and industry leading customer service to more than 37 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America. In the U.S., DIRECTV offers its 20 million customers access to more than 190 HD channels and Dolby-Digital® 5.1 theater-quality sound, access to exclusive sports programming such as NFL SUNDAY TICKET™, Emmy-award winning technology and higher customer satisfaction than the leading cable companies for 13 years running. DIRECTV Latin America, through its subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and other Latin American countries, leads the pay TV category in technology, programming and service, delivering an unrivaled digital television experience to more than 17 million customers. DIRECTV sports and entertainment properties include two Regional Sports Networks (Rocky Mountain and Pittsburgh), and minority ownership interests in Root Sports Northwest and Game Show Network. For the most up-to-date information on DIRECTV, please visit www.directv.com.

About DISH: DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., provides approximately 14.057 million satellite TV customers, as of Dec. 31, 2013, with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value. Subscribers enjoy a high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit www.dish.com.



http://www.businessw...140307005574/en


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#9 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:37 PM

House Website:

https://energycommer...-and-technology


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#10 OFFLINE   hancox

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:42 PM

disapointed in no movement on significantly viewed or cable equivalency for locals.



#11 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:46 PM

It is a beginning. Hopefully they can get it done by the end of the year and not run late like they did with the last reauthorization.


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#12 OFFLINE   KyL416

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 05:34 PM

disapointed in no movement on significantly viewed or cable equivalency for locals.

There already is a rule on the books allowing significantly viewed locals, the problem is finding out what's the holdup in Dish and DirecTV in implementing it for everyone who lives in an area where it's on the list.
i.e. (Just throwing random things out here, it's very possible some of this isn't the case at all, joshjr could probably explain more)
- Stations not knowing what it is?
- The need to pay the neighboring stations more for the new viewers?
- Local stations playing dirty by allowing the local cable systems to have them but not satellite?

What really sucks though is how it's limited to that list. There are many stations that don't originate in the center of the market and have a signal that crosses markets, non-commercial stations like PBS that aren't part of this, and in most cases the list is limited to affiliates of the Big 3 or Big 4, so satellite providers can't carry them. For example here in the Poconos in addition to the NYC and Philly stations on the list, the local cable company also has several Lehigh Valley area channels like WFMZ and WLVT, which are basically in the midpoint between us and Philadelphia, along with WWOR out of the NYC area.

Edited by KyL416, 07 March 2014 - 05:35 PM.


#13 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 06:36 PM

There already is a rule on the books allowing significantly viewed locals, the problem is finding out what's the holdup in Dish and DirecTV in implementing it for everyone who lives in an area where it's on the list.

I wonder if DIRECTV could even pull it off with their relatively narrow spot beams. IIRC, there are a couple of markets that don't get certain LIL, much less SV channels because the beam coverage is insufficient to serve the entirety of the market. They have some superpowers from the Spaceway satellite(s) to fill some holes but apparently not enough.

Spot beams can create limitations that no amount of government authorizations can effectively fix.

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#14 OFFLINE   KyL416

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 07:50 PM

I wonder if DIRECTV could even pull it off with their relatively narrow spot beams. IIRC, there are a couple of markets that don't get certain LIL, much less SV channels because the beam coverage is insufficient to serve the entirety of the market. They have some superpowers from the Spaceway satellite(s) to fill some holes but apparently not enough.

We've been through this the last time you tried to bring it up in another thread, this is not the case at all. Spotbeam maps are available showing the coverage and where the signal starts to dropoff, along with transponder lists where people can see for themselves the strength of the transponders used by those stations. As these are mainly limited to neighboring counties, they just have to worry about covering the bordering counties, not the entire DMA. Heck many of the beams used by DirecTV are used for multiple morkets.

For the majority of the country the spotbeams cover more than enough, the issue mainly applies to markets that cover a large geographic area like Anchorage, Salt Lake City and Denver or cases where they squeezed in a market at the edge of a spot beam like Albany and Portland Maine. And if any of your neighboring locals are affected by the latter, the chances are the neighboring county that's actually in the market wouldn't have their locals either. Looking at DirecTV's list of LIL markets out of the 197 DMAs DirecTV has locals for, only 21 markets are flagged as having areas with either "No HD locals" and/or "Fringe locals" and those are usually limited to one or two counties or in some cases zip codes. The problem isn't as widespread as you claim:
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Albuquerque-Santa Fe NM - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Anchorage AK - Fringe Locals
Austin TX - Fringe Locals
Boise ID - Fringe Locals
Denver CO - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Duluth MN-Superior WI - No HD Locals
Fargo-Valley City ND - No HD Locals
Las Vegas NV - Fringe Locals
Lincoln-Hastings NE - Fringe Locals
New Orleans LA - Fringe Locals
Oklahoma City OK - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Phoenix AZ - Fringe Locals
Portland-Auburn ME - Fringe Locals
Portland OR - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Reno NV - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Roanoke-Lynchburg VA - No HD Locals
Salt Lake City UT - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals
Topeka KS - Fringe Locals
Tyler-Longview TX - Fringe Locals
Wichita-Hutchinson KS - Fringe Locals, No HD Locals

Here in the Poconos my entire county is well within the spotbeam used by the Philly stations while the NYC big 4 are CONUS so it doesn't make a difference. Heck the Philly locals and the rest of the NYC stations are actually on the same spotbeam and they share the feed for things like NJTV where it's mapped to WNJS 23 for Philly and WNJN 50 for NYC, yet they don't offer significantly viewed locals in Central New Jersey. Spot beam coverage is NOT the reason why it isn't available everywhere.

Edited by KyL416, 07 March 2014 - 08:00 PM.


#15 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 03:16 AM

The problem isn't as widespread as you claim:


The claim was "... there are a couple of markets that don't get certain LIL, ...". That doesn't sound like a claim of widespread problems. And your list of markets with "fringe locals" makes it look larger than the "couple of market" claim.

 

There already is a rule on the books allowing significantly viewed locals, the problem is finding out what's the holdup in Dish and DirecTV in implementing it for everyone who lives in an area where it's on the list.


The law is not equal. Significantly viewed for cable is a law that was written to allow stations to gain access to cable systems as local channels. Channels on the list for a county or a community have shown at some point that they serve that county or community via OTA reception and should be considered a local station. Once a station gains significantly viewed status they have leverage to require cable systems to carry their station. (There are other ways of gaining access ... being listed as significantly viewed is just one of them.)

Technically cable systems do not have to carry every local channel. They must set aside a percentage of channels for carrying locals and when that quota is filled they can stop. In practice most cable systems now offer enough channels that the quota is irrelevant (the quota is higher than the number of available local channels) but cable does not have the same rule as satellite that requires carriage to be offered to every station in a market regardless of the number of channels.

The combination of cable systems not meeting their quota (which is acceptable as long as there are no more local stations to carry) and stations that have proven they reach the local community through being significantly viewed creates a situation where stations who are significantly viewed are carried on cable. They have earned that right through a law specifically written to protect their OTA reception area.

Significantly viewed for satellite uses the same list but does not use the same rules. First of all, it is an optional service. Unlike cable, there is no requirement that a significantly viewed station ever be carried on satellite. Originally significantly viewed was added to the distants part of the carriage laws, not the local into local. Upon renewal Congress appropriately moved significantly viewed into the local into local part of the carriage laws (primarily because DISH had lost permission to carry distants at the time and as a side effect could not carry significantly viewed stations).

The inequality between the laws is stunning. A list intended to be another way for a station to force carriage on a cable system is being used to allow carriage on satellite systems - at the option of the satellite carrier. The primary reason why more significantly viewed stations are not carried on satellite is that the satellite carriers do not have to carry the stations. (There may be agreements with other stations not to introduce competing significantly viewed stations - but the bottom line is that satellite does not have to carry significantly viewed channels. No reason needed.)

DISH uses the significantly viewed laws to fill in short markets. If the market isn't short they don't carry an out of market station (significantly viewed or distant). It is their option under the law.
 

What really sucks though is how it's limited to that list. There are many stations that don't originate in the center of the market and have a signal that crosses markets, non-commercial stations like PBS that aren't part of this, and in most cases the list is limited to affiliates of the Big 3 or Big 4, so satellite providers can't carry them. For example here in the Poconos in addition to the NYC and Philly stations on the list, the local cable company also has several Lehigh Valley area channels like WFMZ and WLVT, which are basically in the midpoint between us and Philadelphia, along with WWOR out of the NYC area.


That is the other flaw in the list. If the station is already carried by cable systems because of a strong local signal there is no reason for the station to try to get on the significantly viewed list. The list was intended for stations who were not carried to prove they should be carried. If they were already carried there was no reason to get listed.

Another flaw in the list is how a station gets listed. It is based on actual customers using OTA reception. Not predicted reception but people actually using OTA to watch the signals. If a channel is already on cable that can cut in to the actual OTA reception of the channel and make a station ineligible to be significantly viewed. Catch 22?

[And now for how I'd run the world ...]
Personally, if it were entirely up to me to write satellite carriage laws I would start with the predicted licensed coverage areas of the stations. If the predicted coverage area covers the customer's community then the station is offered carriage to that customer - with no blackouts. Theoretically that customer should get the station via an OTA antenna, so they should get it via satellite. The second step would be to extend the station's coverage area to the rest of their own Nielson defined market area. (This is the current "in market" footprint a station is given on satellite.) This would extend coverage to customers outside of the predicted OTA coverage area but still inside the market. And then I'd look at what holes are left.

Defining the holes (short markets) is the challenge. The current laws focus on the big four commercial networks as if there was some special right to receive their signal that does not apply to affiliates of other networks. For example, if there is a market or part of a market that does not receive an ABC affiliate the laws allow and encourage the importation of any affiliate to fill that hole. But there is nothing protecting smaller networks or independent stations. The first two steps (predicted coverage plus the rest of their home market) should cover most of the expected viewers of a smaller network or independent station ... but to fill the holes I would extend coverage to the rest of any market that their signal was carried in. For example, if a market has no ABC affiliate but would receive ABC in part of the market from a neighboring market because of predicted OTA coverage I'd extend that carriage to the rest of the market without an affiliate. If a smaller network or independent gained access to part of a neighboring market through OTA coverage they would get the whole neighboring market (as long as there was no conflict with other stations).

Of course, even my ideas have flaws. The first caveat would be "where technically possible". I would not require carriage to be extended where the satellite signal would not reach. There would be stations upset that their rights to exclusive carriage of syndicated programs were being infringed by an imported station (to which, within an OTA overlap, I'd say they were out of luck). There would be satellite carriers who would not want to divide the markets into counties and communities based on predicted OTA reception (it is so much easier to have ONE set of locals for each of the markets). And there would be customers who would be ticked that my list doesn't include the coastal distants currently available to some via DirecTV.

So my plan would tick everyone off in different ways ... just like the real laws. :D
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#16 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 06:20 AM

[And now for how I'd run the world ...]
Personally, if it were entirely up to me to write satellite carriage laws I would start with ....

 

... banning all retransmission fees.  Once it leaves your tower, it's fair game.

 

... prohibiting stations from having any say in what else is available.  You want the most viewers?  Provide the best product.


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#17 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:51 AM

[And now for how I'd run the world ...]
Personally, if it were entirely up to me to write satellite carriage laws I would start with ....
 
... banning all retransmission fees.  Once it leaves your tower, it's fair game.
 
... prohibiting stations from having any say in what else is available.  You want the most viewers?  Provide the best product.


Where would you require carriage of a local station? While I understand the desire for out of market stations the local stations need to have some footprint via satellite. Delivering other stations instead of locals is what led to the laws we have today. (Satellite did not want to carry every local market and delivered select affiliates nationally. Then came the lawsuits and changed laws to allow carriage under the defined guidelines.)
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#18 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 10:09 AM

"Where would you require carriage of a local station?"

 

Since the system for carriage is already in place, all channels and sub-channels would be carried.  Exception might be where there is full duplication of content like PBS in some areas.  I have about 4 stations affiliated with colleges that all run the same full PBS schedule as part of a statewide system.

 

In the early days when the carriage system was still being built, some rules may have been needed.  Those days have passed.


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#19 OFFLINE   joshjr

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:03 AM

That is the other flaw in the list. If the station is already carried by cable systems because of a strong local signal there is no reason for the station to try to get on the significantly viewed list. The list was intended for stations who were not carried to prove they should be carried. If they were already carried there was no reason to get listed.

Another flaw in the list is how a station gets listed. It is based on actual customers using OTA reception. Not predicted reception but people actually using OTA to watch the signals. If a channel is already on cable that can cut in to the actual OTA reception of the channel and make a station ineligible to be significantly viewed. Catch 22?

 

I have a different opinion I guess.  If anyone wants a station to be considered significantly viewed, they should do their research.  If there are other stations further away that are considered significantly viewed, I would call the affiliate and ask their GM if their signal can reach me and if they would consider applying for a Significantly Viewed status with the FCC. 

 

When I contacted the FCC about how stations got on the list all I was informed was that the station applies for it and the FCC reviews it.  I asked if anyone has ever not received the status and I am pretty sure I was told no.  That being said it is not the easiest thing in the world to get a station already has the status to contact DirecTV and push forward to get the station added in a DMA that is not technically part of theirs.


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#20 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:16 AM

As these are mainly limited to neighboring counties, they just have to worry about covering the bordering counties, not the entire DMA. Heck many of the beams used by DirecTV are used for multiple morkets.

You're assuming that the SV channels are surely on the same (or 100% overlapping) spot beam as the LIL channels and I don't think that's a reasonable assumption.


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